If you think Judas Priest is finished, well, you've got another thing coming.
Yes, the veteran British heavy metal group has announced that it's current Epitaph World Tour is a farewell trek -- of sorts. But frontman Rob Halford says that doesn't mean it's the last we'll hear from the quintet.
"We're taking every opportunity to let our fans know this is not the end of Judas Priest," says Halford, 60, whose leather and steel-studded fashions earned him the copyrighted moniker of Metal God. "We're just cutting back on these big, long treks around the world that we love to do.
"But yet we're facing mortality; as a metal singer I'm still able to do the vast majority of things that have laid out before me...but I'd be the first to admit that I'm finding it more challenging now, and I don't want to get into that syndrome where you end up a little bit punch-drunk and you're not giving the performance that you want to give.
"The inevitable payoff is that it gives the band more life. We're able to continue doing selective shows in the future and, as importantly, keep recording and making new metal records."
Halford says Priest -- including new guitarist Richie Faulkner, whose replaced retired co-founder K.K. Downing -- already has "about 12 or 14 tracks completely mapped out" for the group's next album, with four songs already recorded. The group tapped musical friends such as Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica's Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield, Slayer's Kerry King and others to pick favorite songs for a new compilation called "The Chosen Few," but Halford says Priest is particularly excited about making some new music as soon as it can.
"The good news is there will be a brand new Priest record next year," Halford promises, "and I think it's it's fair to say that this is going to be just another great, traditional British heavy metal album from Priest with what you love about the band -- the riffs, the screaming vocals, all of the tradition and heritage that we try to keep somehow in our music as we've moved along."
Judas Priest, Black Label Society and Thin LIzzy perform at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, at Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center Drive, Detroit. Tickets are $25-$80. Call 313-471-6606 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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